So yesterday I got asked if I could cover 2 extra classes of Callan Method that evening. That’s the thing I watched a class of on my first day and thought ‘phewwww’ looks difficult! Ha. So Yulia taught me the basics in 5 minutes before we started, and then I watched her do the first half of the TWO hour class! Then it was my turn.
Callan Method is basically a method of teaching English which only uses speaking. The teacher and the students have the same book which is full of questions and answers, which demonstrate the new vocabulary but the students aren’t supposed to look at the book, just listen to the teacher. The teacher then reads the question twice ‘On which side of your body would you find your heart on which side of your body would you find your heart??’ and the student must answer quickly without translating into their native language, ‘my heart is on the left side of my body’ and then you go straight to the next question asking a different student.
I did quite like how structured the method is; you write down which page you got up to last lesson, and then the next lesson begins 35 pages back for 20 minutes. The you give them a dictation for 10 minutes. Then you carry on with the pages for 20 minutes and have a break. Then you go back 20 pages from the last lesson for 20 minutes, then you begin new material, so carry on from where you left off last lesson, but you have to explain the new words which are in between every 3 or 4 questions so it’s a bit slower.
But…while it sounds like they know quite a lot of English from listening to the revision part of the class, they are prompted A LOT from the teacher; the teacher basically says the answer with them so that the speed is kept up, and they will have remembered the answer from the last time they did it. When it came to new material they definitely struggled to answer the questions, and I don’t know if they would be able to use the structures when speaking for themselves. I do think it takes a lot more to learn a language properly.
I ‘googled’ the method when I got home, and it seems that although it’s being advertised in language schools as the ‘new’, fast, method of learning English, it’s actually 20 years old – which explains why I hadn’t heard of some of the idioms written in the book, and thought some of the questions sounded strange. This is also criticised on the forums, by people saying that it is very outdated, and although the student feels like they are learning a lot, they can’t actually use what they have learnt in real situations, and anything beyond beginner level is just pointless.
I can’t comment yet, as I have only seen 3 classes of students but I think it must be quite effective to learn how real speech sounds, and speaking the whole lesson – practising pronunciation and word order, rather than studying gap fills and random stories in text books for 90 minutes.
And I did find myself using the technique during my conversation part of the classes I taught today, asking questions twice so that they understood, and then helping them answer when they paused. Often when they pause it’s because they have no idea what to say and are just waiting for the answer, pretending to think…! So waiting for an answer doesn’t help anyway. It sped it up..but whether they learnt anything – I don’t know!!